Home > Local News > Cambodia and Thailand Armies Shed Blood Over Hindu Temple

Cambodia and Thailand Armies Shed Blood Over Hindu Temple

PHON PENH, Cambodia – Thai and Cambodian troops continue to fight over a disputed area surrounding a 900-year-old Hindu temple.
The 900-year-old Hindu temple of Preah Vihear on the Thai-Cambodian border
The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962
but the ruling did not determine the ownership of the scrub next to the
ruins, leaving considerable scope for disagreement
On Friday, there was intense two-hour fighting between the
neighboring forces, which left soldiers and a villager killed. On
Saturday, troops fought with rocket-propelled grenades and guns,
prompting residents to flee the area.
Shelling and machine gunfire echoed around the contested area on
Monday around the ancient Preah Vihear temple claimed by both Southeast
Asian neighbors, witnesses said.
Although sporadic clashes in the area are not unusual, it is rare
for the two sides to fight over consecutive days. A call for “maximum
restraint” to cease the hostilities was announced by Ban Ki-moon, the
UN secretary-general.
At least eight people were killed in four days of cross-border
violence, which forced thousands of families to flee on both sides of
the frontier.
This has been considered the most deadly clash since Preah Vihear
was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008, a move that sparked
sporadic skirmishes between the neighbors.
The temple was damaged on Sunday by Thai artillery fire, according
to Cambodia, which said one wing of the building had “collapsed” as a
result.
Thai officials, however, dismissed Cambodia’s account as propaganda. The true extent of damage is unknown.
With Prime Minister Hun Sen accusing Thailand of “repeated acts of
aggression”, the country urged the UN Security Council to intervene in
the fighting.
Thailand played down the reports of fresh fighting, with a military
source near the border describing the incident as a “misunderstanding”,
involving only small arms fire.
On Sunday, Wayne Hay, an Al Jazeera correspondent at the
Thai-Cambodia border, reported seeing artillery fire streaming across
the night sky, as well as ambulances heading towards the disputed area.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn says occasional
skirmishes were due to the unsecured nature of the border. He says it
demonstrates a need to step up efforts under a memorandum of
understanding aimed at resolving the territorial conflict peacefully.
“This is why we urge Cambodia to work with us more rapidly under the
MOU to negotiate the clear demarcations so we can secure the borders
much more effectively,” he said.
Hundreds of Thai nationalists with the People’s Alliance for
Democracy, known as the Yellow Shirts, have been protesting near
government offices for two weeks demanding they get tough with Cambodia.
Panthep Pourpongphan is a spokesman for the PAD, said “[t]his
fighting, is kind of evidence, is quite clear evidence that this kind
of MOU has so many problems that we need to stop it and [start] new
negotiations with a new MOU,” Pourpongphan stated.
Diplomatic efforts to resolve a border dispute between Thailand and
Cambodia gained momentum on Wednesday, with the two neighbors set to
address the UN Security Council next week.
Thailand also raised the possibility of the first face-to-face talks between the two countries’ foreign ministers.
“This war will be resolved through the mechanism of the United Nations,” Hun Sen said in a speech in the Cambodian capital.
Impunity Watch
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Categories: Local News
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